New Delhi: Pledging full protection to minorities, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday questioned the practice of conversions and advocated a debate on the need for an anti-conversion law.
He also wanted to know whether people cannot be served without indulging in conversions.
"There are sometimes rumours and controversies about 'Ghar Wapsi' and conversions. Why should there by any conversion at all?
"In other countries it is the minorities which ask for anti-conversion law. Here, we are only saying that there should be an anti-conversion law. There should be debate over it. We must think on bringing anti-conversion law. I humbly request all of you to think over it," Singh said.
He was addressing a conference of state minority commissions which was attended by representatives of various minority communities.
The Home Minister's remarks on conversions assume significance in the midst of controversy over anti-conversion campaign undertaken by Hindutva organisations and comments by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat regarding Mother Teresa.
"Why can't we serve the people without doing conversion. Those who want to serve the people should do so without engaged with conversion. Can't we find a solution to the problem.
"The issue was even raised in Parliament. Many people said government should do something about it. But I think society also has a role. Society too has responsibility. Can't we live without respecting each other's faith. What is the necessity of conversion. Can't a religion survive without involving in conversion," he said.
The Home Minister said he would like to request all state governments to take strongest possible action for the protection of minorities.
"I want to tell the whole country, even through law and order is a state subject, I will do everything for the protection of minority. I will go to any extent for this. I say this in the name of god," he said.
The Home Minister also raised the issue of fear among certain sections about possible demographic change in the country and said the basic character of the country should not be allowed to change.
"If we go to the US and try to hurt the identity of that country, will they accept it? Why do we want to change their identity? There should not be any such attempt. How can a country like India allow changes in its demographic profile and character? Let India's character remain the same," he said.
Singh alleged that the sense of insecurity among the minorities prevailed during the rule of Congress-led UPA.
"If anyone can end the sense of insecurity among the minorities, it is the Narendra Modi-led NDA government. We have to turn the sense of insecurity into a sense of security. For a government or a Home Minister, ending insecurity of minorities is the biggest challenge," he said.
The Home Minister expressed concern over the conflict between communities and said the trend should be stopped and the tendency to establish supremacy by one community over another should come to an end.
"Why do we fight with each other? It is very unfortunate. A dog bites a dog but why cannot a human keep himself away from any fight. Is there any need to establish supremacy over someone else. I believe god is one and people call him by different names.
"While preaching our respective religion, can't we live with brotherhood. Why do we have to engage in conversion. What is the need. Conversion cannot be anyone's goal. Let all people preach respective religion and live peacefully. Many people may not agree with what I am saying. You may have a different opinion and I respect that," he said.
Singh said India is the only country where people of all religions are found. "The Parsi community had to leave their own land Iran. They are living in India with peace, prosperity and dignity for ages," he said.
A documentation on Jews has suggested that India is the only country where the community does not face any persecution. The oldest church in the world is in India. It is not in the US or in Europe, it is in Kerala, he said.
Singh said India is a country which respects all religions and believes in peaceful existence. Here all 72 sects of Islam live peacefully.
The Home Minister also said that no one can question the patriotism of minorities, even though some of them may feel alienated.
Singh said government is committed to give facilities to the minorities and to take up developmental projects for their welfare in the country.
"Some people may feel alienated. People may feel that proper development of the community is not taking place. For that we have to take appropriate action," he said.
Addressing the conference, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said the Government is committed to address the issue of backwardness, both economic and educational, among the minorities.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said there is a need to change the mindset so as to remove the cause of distrust and fear among different communities.
Maintaining that secularism was too serious an issue to be left to the government alone, he said the civil society must take the initiative to build trust.
Minister of State for Minorities Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to the welfare of all minorities.
He said that security, prosperity and education of minorities are important issues before the Government.
Naqvi assured that there would be proper utilisation of funds earmarked for minorities' welfare and that any pilferage would be plugged.
Chairman of the National Minorities Commission Naseem Ahmed said it is the Commissions' endeavour to protect the constitutional, legal and civil rights of the notified minorities.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Updated Date: Mar 23, 2015 16:25:02 IST